Here’s a preview for The Flesh (Ghosts V), which will be out next week. Hope you like it!
It ends in chaos.
Wasn’t that always the plan?
With the children cast out of the garden, the garden itself goes to ruin. Heavy rains become more frequent, and stagnant ponds of muddy water start to collect across the land. Fruits dies on the trees, and the grass grows long. Soon there are storms; great forks of lightning arc from the sky, sometimes hitting the land and causing fires that burn for centuries.
The birds leave first, flying over the wall and far away to find a better home. For the other animals, escape is more difficult. Some manage to scale the wall and get away, but many are trapped here. Fighting breaks out, and blood flows. Soon there are dark noises in the forest: screams and cries for help from creatures that have fallen victim to the new predators. After a while, I start to notice bones and half-eaten carcasses are becoming a more frequent sight. Strange how little time it takes for this paradise to become a hell.
I do not move. I stand here, watching.
Many hundreds of years later, the ground itself gives way and the whole garden falls deep into the earth. I fall with it, and I am not scared. I know that this is part of some great plan, though I am not aware of how things will end. The garden lands deep in the dark hollows of the planet, and for centuries nothing else happens. But slowly, the earth above us starts to heal and we are entombed in darkness. Still, it is all part of the plan.
At first, the remains of the garden become unbearably cold, but soon there is a new problem: heat starts to build up; heat that has risen from the depths of the planet. Finally there is light, as fires start spontaneously and the soil starts to turn to ash. Some of the other creatures that survived the fall start to scream, but others learn to adapt to this horrific place. One, in particular, is able to turn this place into his dominion, casting his power wide and threatening all the others with horrific fates if they do not bow down before him.
The only one he does not threaten is me.
And still I have not moved. I have just stood, watching, all this time.
I watch and wait. For thousands of years, this place burns and burns. But finally, the heat starts to force this hell up towards the surface of the planet once again. We break through and settle in a space under the sun, and gradually the heat dies down. The harsh sunlight ravages the soil and soon there is little but dust. Most of the other creatures either die or leave, but a few stay and toil in this new environment.
Me? I just stand and watch.
Finally, humans arrive. They start to build makeshift homes while they look for gold in the nearby river. There is not much gold, certainly not enough to make anyone rich, but it is perhaps enough to keep this little encampment going. Soon there are more humans, and mining for precious minerals becomes a brief boom. The town grows fast, all around me, and I watch as the humans develop new tools and toys.
For a while, life for the humans is good, but gradually the good times fade away. Life in this bleak desert becomes unbearable for many of them and they leave, but a few thousand remains behind and the little town of Texas, in the state of Texas, takes its modern shape. Soon there is a town square with carefully planted grass, and rows and rows of houses spread out to create small suburbs. Watching as the humans manufacture this new town out of nothing but the dust of the desert, I almost come to admire them.
Then one day, as I am watching the humans as usual, a man approaches me. He is old and fat, but he has a friendly face.
“Can we help you with something, Miss?” he asks.
I turn to him, surprised that he can see me. But I suppose it makes sense. I should have known that eventually I would find myself having to interact with these people.
“I’m not sure,” I say, and I’m shocked at my own voice. I sound so sweet and innocent, like a lovely young woman who wouldn’t hurt a soul.
“Are you okay?” the man asks, with genuine compassion evident in his eyes.
“I suppose…” I pause, still getting used to this human body, this human mouth, this voice of mine. “I suppose I need a job,” I say finally. “And somewhere to live”.
“Got no parents, huh?” the man asks. He nods. “Come on,” he says. “We’ll see what we can do”. He puts his arm around my shoulder and leads me into the town. It’s the first time I have moved since the days when this place was a garden. But I don’t mind. It feels good to finally get started with the next phase of the plan. “Can’t leave you standing out there like that,” the man says as we walk across the town square. “Hot day like this, damned place can be like hell on Earth”.
The Flesh (Ghosts V) will be available from Amazon in May 2012.